04

Nov

10:26pm
Samriddhi Chatterjee India
INCARCERATION AND PRISON CONDITIONS

INCARCERATION AND PRISON CONDITIONS

Samriddhi Chatterjee India//10:26pm, Nov 4th '21

It was 1972, the year when Angela Davis was declared innocent by an all-white jury and the whole world had come to her support, voicing concerns against her incarceration and penning down songs of joy on her release. Was she imprisoned because she is a communist, or because she is black, or both? Her own imprisonment fuelled her passion for prison reform advocacy.

Image

In the 21st century, while there are capitalist claims of modernization and progress, one of the most crucial questions that remains to be answered is whether we have learnt anything from our history or are we simply reinforcing our mistakes, but only in a different form? Neo-slavery and neo-colonialism are manifestations of our inglorious past. So is the present any different from the past when it is quite apparent that we are still facing similar issues, only that these issues are cloaked under the guise of “modernity”. Professor of history, Jamie Warren who specializes in American Slavery says that while teaching about human bondage, when her students ask her, “how did people justify slavery?” she answers not by pointing to the past, but the present. Sometime in future, people will ask a question about today, only the form of evil would be different, yet prevalent.

The present reflects these concerns in a society marred by mass incarcerations and police brutality regulated by our criminal justice system which is a product of our colonial heritage. In India, there is an overwhelming representation of the historically oppressed and the marginalized communities in prisons for both under trials and convicts. This is the same problem with every country. In the US, the Hispanic and the Black community are similarly overrepresented. These communities face a higher chance of being imprisoned as compared to the socially privileged communities and is therefore a major reason for why they face the highest probability of experiencing police brutality. Since this pattern exists in almost all the countries, it is pertinent to understand the reason behind why all the jurisdictions across the globe continue to incarcerate the marginalized. Since we claim to have become modern, why do the repulsive remnants of the past still find a place in the present?

According to Foucault’s Discipline and punish: The birth of prisons, prisons were disciplinary mechanisms that were developed as a result of class power to colonize the legal institution. Imprisoning and torturing subjects during the medieval era was seen as a symbol of power by the Kings which enabled them to exercise control over the people. Torture was a tool to establish power over the subjects. This thought of inflicting torture on the bodies of the people who fall lower in the social hierarchy is not just a thing of past, but has translated to the present as well, through the links of race, caste, religion, and other social constructs that govern the relation between the oppressed and the oppressor. This is now reflected in the relation between the State and the marginalized communities, who are harassed by State machinery- the Police. Custodial deaths, custodial rape, extrajudicial killings, etc have now been so normalized that a layman feels that police violence is a part of the procedure.

If you read our blogs then why not our magazine!!!
Image
Click here to subscribe our monthly magazine

Though there are certain safeguards in place, such as the D.K. Basu guidelines, relevant provisions from the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and other constitutional provisions to prevent such abuse of power, what good are these laws when the very people for whom they are meant for, are unaware of the same indicating a poor legal literacy rate. Not just legal literacy, but the overall literacy rate amongst prisoners has been abysmal as well, with approximately 6% of them being graduates. The problem persists despite the existence of these legal safeguards which only indicate how inept they have been. At this juncture, it becomes essential to question the system and ask if laws are indeed meant for justice or for furthering the cause of oppression as expounded by Marxist scholars.

Image

Once a person is brought within the four walls of prisons, the next problem comes to light. There is this major issue of overcrowding which reflects the horrifying prison conditions and the failure to show any significant improvements. The occupancy rate has by far been severely high, much more than the sanctioned capacity. One of the major reasons behind this is the failure of the system to differentiate between undertrial prisoners and convicted prisoners. As of 2019, about 70% of prisoners were undertrials, indicating the sluggish rate of hearing and listing of matters. According to a 2014 study by the National Human Rights commission titled “Suicides in Prison: Prevention, Strategy and Implication from Human Rights and Legal Points of View” the suicide rate for pre-trial detainees is alarmingly higher than the general population. The mental health of prisoners worsens because of the authoritarian prison environment. All this stems from the systemic lethargy coupled with other socio-economic factors that have culminated in the chaotic situation prevailing across Indian prisons.


Elections in Canada: History is in the hands of the Communist Party
Akash Chatterjee India//12:23am, Sep 7th '21

Elections in Canada: History is in the hands of the Communist Party

The 44th general election of Canada is merely two weeks away now. On 20th of September, 2021 the people of Canada will vote for the members for the house of commons in the Canadian Parliament. Prime Minister....

Read More
Punishment and Social structure
George Chakma India//11:48pm, Nov 21st '21

Punishment and Social structure

Once again Marx has been proven right. Kyle Rittenhouse's verdict shows that the criminal justice system indeed is designed to protect private property. In a country like the US where private property....

Read More
On A Strategic Retreat From Afghanistan
Luis Lazaro Tijerina USA//2:09am, Aug 21st '21

On A Strategic Retreat From Afghanistan

This Article is written by military historian Luiz Lazaro Tijerina. This is a historical document written on the Afghan Crisis. The Executive Editor of The International Maggazine, Adele Cain has added....

Read More
Rightwing Terrorists March on the Capitol Building Under 'Trump Flags'
C S Mathews USA//3:52am, Jan 7th '21

Rightwing Terrorists March on the Capitol Building Under 'Trump Flags'

The Capitol has been evacuated as rightwing terrorists seize control of the building, a militia marches on the Georgia state house, National Guard is in route, one unknown individual is rushed to the hospital....

Read More
Personal and Corporate Tax - Reality versus Bourgeois Economics
Stewart Mcgil UK//11:19am, Jan 22nd '21

Personal and Corporate Tax - Reality versus Bourgeois Economics

The ideas propagated by bourgeois economists and the right-wing on taxation, particularly those that associate low taxes on the rich and on corporates with economic growth, are nonsense: the following....

Read More
Taliban Takeover: An Imperialist Catastrophe
Yanis Iqbal India//12:03am, Aug 22nd '21

Taliban Takeover: An Imperialist Catastrophe

On August 15, 2021, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani left the country with four cars and a chopper full of cash as the Taliban made their way into Kabul amidst the withdrawal of US forces from the....

Read More